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Buddhist Spectrum

She promotes inner beautiy through meditation

Maha Upasika Dr. Bongkot Sitthipol of Thailand

Once Ven. Maha Moggallana, the famous mathematician of the time of the Buddha went to the Buddha and asked him, "Venerable Sir, in the case of various professions, there is always a gradual training, a graded doing, and a gradual practice. Is it possible, Lord Gotama, to lay down a similar gradual training and a progressive development in respect of spiritual discipline".

Said the Buddha, it is possible, learned devotee, to lay down a gradual training, in respect of spiritual life.

Just as a skilled trainer of horses, trains the horse by getting it used to various modes of training, even so the Ththagata, the Truth-Bearer (Referring to Himself, in the third person), having accepted a man to be spiritually tamed, disciplines him through a gradual method of training. The gradual training begins first with moral conduct, followed by sense control, moderation in eating, heedfulness and overcoming impediments.

On another occasion, Brahaman Vassakara went to the Buddha, who was in residence in the Kutaghara (Hall with the Pointed Roof) in Mahavana (Great Wood) in Vaishali, asked the Buddha, what kind of meditation he recommends.

The Buddha in reply said, "Here is someone, secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unwholesome states, enters upon and abodes in the first meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion.

And he enters upon and abides in the second, the third, and the fourth meditations. The Blessed One commends such meditation" (Majjima Nikaya 108).

It is indeed a pleasant experience, this writer's meeting with Maha Upasika Dr. Bongkot Sitthipol of Thailand.

To rest, reflect and meditate...

She has built one of the tallest images of the Buddha in the open air of a well-laid grove in Savatthi, little away from the Jetavanaramaya in the sitting posture, tinted with gold.

Maha Upasika was born in early May, 1954, at Aranypratet, Prachinburi Province, Thailand, who later in life was the owner/director and teacher of Bogkot Beauty School, certified by the Ministry of Education, Thailand for its academic excellence.

However, there was a turning point in her life. She realised that external beauty and the experience in teaching beauty culture would not bring forth happiness nor solve problems and difficulties of all kinds that besiege the mind, body and heart.

She realised that one has to seek within one's heart and mind and make it beautiful in order to gain happiness and peace, because the source of beauty is found within. Further she was convinced, humankind from all over the world, irrespective of their class, colours, creed or religion, all related like brothers and sisters in one big family like a tree with roots, trunk, branches, leaves and flowers and fruits.

She then gave up and left her school and family life and became a Upasika to be of selfless service to the whole world.

Maha Upasika Dr. Bongkot reflected that throughout the world there are innumerable educational institutions, but they have no emphasis to develop moral values but only material gain.

She then established learning institutions to develop the minds of people to generate purity, peace, happiness and wisdom to approach and solve problems in a calm atmosphere.

Thus her training sessions are in green groves. These centres functioning in buildings are open daily to receive the public of the world at their convenience irrespective of nationality, language, creed, religion, class and occupation. Food, lodging and training are all free of charge, all expenses met by her.

People who come for training are taught to learn from nature and the things around them, for example sleeping on the floor with mat or camping out in the forest, eating one full meal a day and bathing in cold water.

In the Non-Formal Education centre she established at Daen Mahamongkol in Thailand, ample opportunities are provided in the form of solitary huts at strategic open spaces and forest areas for participants to rest, reflect and meditate.

Thus nature conduces to internal peace sans the state-of-the-art amenities and luxuries. Even preparation of food is team work, constantly thinking while cooking whoever eats the food, may they have good health, be free from illness and disease, be free from anger, hatred, greed and jealousy.

The trainees while sweeping the ground, think, whoever sees the lush greefields, free from dead leaves and twigs, may they be free from stress, be composed and calm and may all their problems fade away. Thus repulsiveness, irritation are redeemed from the mind, in other words attachment (lobha), enmity (dosa) and ignorance (moha) are dispelled from the mind.

Maha Upasika Dr. Bongkot Sitthipol has established Daen Mahamongkol Meditation Centres in Saiyok District, Kanchanaburi Province Thailand, Mahamongkolchai Dhamma Devoted Land for World Peacefulness Foundation, Shravasti, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Shravasti institution has nine large halls for approximately for training 5,000 people, eleven middle sized meditation halls, for around 2,000 devotees, 1,000 solitary meditation huts three large eating halls providing vegetarian food and 500 bathrooms.

Maha Upasika Dr. Bongkot Sitthipol has established Daen Mahmongkol International Meditation Centres at various places in Thailand and India, namely Daen Mahamongkol Saiyok District, Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand, and Mahamongkolchai Dhamma Devoted Land for World Peacefulness Foundation at Shravasthri, Uttar Pradesh, India (This writer visits this centre annually).

The facilities now aggregate to nine large centres for approximately 5,000 people for training and developing the mind, eleven middle sized meditation halls for around 2,000 participants. nearly 1,000 solitary meditation huts, three large eating halls providing only vegetarian food and about 500 bathrooms.

All these structures are located in lush green natural forests, with trees of various species. All these facilities are provided free of charge and expenses met by the Maha Upasika.

These training sessions are attended by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslim men and women and also Christians in short by the adherents of all religions, as they all need inner peace in the ups and downs of everyday life to whichever faith they belong to.

These people speaking different languages come together for a common objective, that is to walk in unity and harmony under the Maha Upasika's selfless leadership.

The Walks of Peace and Harmony she organises in India, punctuating the theme, "We may be different, but we can come and work together for peace in the world", are well attended walks through the streets and villages of India.

The training programmes are pluralistic and even Roman Catholic nuns and Hindu priests participate in them. She even conducts sessions for Indian policemen. The dialogue sessions have benefitted people in all stages of life helping them to maximise their potential.

Children and youth such as children lacking education, drug addicts, misguided and delinquent children and promiscuous teenagers too have been targeted in her programmes.

Her mission is globally accepted and she has been awarded the highest honours by USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, India and Sri Lanka too. Her munificence reaches human-friendly organisation the world over.

Gross National Happiness, development indicator in Bhutan

Thailand's army-installed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Monday that the kingdom should measure the happiness of its people as well as the growth of its economy.

Surayud spoke as he met caretaker Prime Minister Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji of Bhutan, a remote Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas that has embraced the concept of "gross national happiness" as a guiding tenet of its development.

"We are gathered in concern for the well-being of our people spiritually, mentally and physically," Surayud told reporters. "We have learned that growth cannot be measured in numbers and GDP alone. It must also be measured through the well-being of the people," he added.

Bhutan is ranked near the bottom of the world's development scale so the landlocked country invented a unique way to measure progress by citing gross national happiness (GNH) ahead of gross domestic product (GDP).

The policy was decreed by former king Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1990s in response to low economic growth in an attempt to reflect quality of life over money.

It has since become the isolated kingdom's guiding policy tool and a driving force behind Bhutan's transition to democracy, with elections set for December, Dorji said.

"The government of Bhutan is developing indicators for GNH and incorporating them into concrete policies," he said, adding: "Numerical values do not do justice to the emotions of the human experience."

The philosophy is listed in Bhutan's draft constitution, slated to be ratified after a national referendum planned as part of the country's historic shift toward parliamentary democracy. A recent study by the Centre for Bhutan Studies, a research institute, found 68 percent of the country's nearly 700,000 people were happy.

A World Bank official last week told Bhutan's state newspaper that other countries should also promote gross national happiness as a gauge of national well-being.



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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